Christmas Chaos

Posted December 13, 2018 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

Actually, it’s beautiful and sunny, but the atmosphere inside is frightful.

I’m behind in my Christmas prep. This is not my normal self. I’m usually on top of things.

It’s time to make my list and check it twice.

“Deck the Halls!”

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Done!

I’m Dreaming of a “White Christmas” with every Christmas card I write!

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Done!

Christmas Cookies – Wh-a-a-a-t?

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Recipes – waiting patiently!

Presents – That’s Santa’s job!

Wrapping –  Can’t wrap without presents!

What else?

Laundry baskets full of dirty clothes.

Dust bunnies hopping in every nook and cranny of the house.

Grocery shopping – the cupboards are bare.

There is chaos in our household. Guests invited weeks ago are expected for Saturday dinner. Family will be here on Sunday –  because there’s “No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”

I keep telling myself, baby steps. Oh, oh, those baby steps remind me of the three sweet girls coming on Sunday. Curiosity will get the best of them. That means to get ready for the “Jingle Bell Rock” and roll of the Christmas tree.

All of this is making me a crazy woman. If I keep this up, “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas!”

“Breathe in…breathe out,” says my husband. “You can do it.” And then he points to the tree in our backyard that he decorated with me in mind. His heart lights up my life!

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Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

 

 

 

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Another Wintery Story

Posted December 6, 2018 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Seasonal Books

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The Snowy Nap by Jan Brett

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After Hedgie, the hedgehog, hears the barnyard animals talk about the excitement winter brings, Hedgie decides he doesn’t want to miss out. No hibernating for him this year. Jan Bretts detailed and colorful illustrations show Hedgie as he tries to stay awake for winter, but he begins to shiver in the frosty night. Brett’s clever use of a secondary story in the border, depicts a young girl, Lisa, watching from a window. She sees Hedgie, bundles him up, and brings him into the warmth of her house. Wrapped in a tea cozy (So cute!), and placed by the window, Hedgie has a perfect spot to see winter. A snowstorm changes the landscape of the farm to a winter wonderland. Hedgie sees the chicken coop covered in snow and icicles, Lisa and the geese skating on the frozen pond, and snowmen. But poor Hedgie is getting tired. He’s almost asleep when he hears the jingle of bells. It’s pony pulling Lisa in the sleigh – a happy sight to see. Meanwhile, in the border story, the barnyard animals are peeking into the windows of Lisa’s house. With Hedgie sleeping longer each day, Lisa brings him to his burrow where he belongs. When she returns home, Lisa is in for a big winter surprise of her own. Jan Brett’s story and illustrations are truly charming. They are sure to delight any child with each page turn.

 

 

 

Winter Arrives

Posted November 29, 2018 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Books

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I’ve found the perfect picture book for the season.

Winter

Winter Is Here is written by award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes and illustrated by his talented wife Laura Dronzek. Each page turn of Henkes’ lyrical text walks readers through a gentle snowfall, using delightful words like “falling, sitting, dripping, sticking, reaching, crouching, and settling.” Laura Dronzek’s illustrations, done in soft colors, depict a gorgeous winter wonderland that makes the reader want to jump into each scene and join in the winter fun. The lighthearted tone of Henkes’ text at the beginning of the book changes to reveal the blustery part of Winter. Dronzek’s illustrations follow the mood of the text by creating white and gray scenes, deep blue night skies, and tree branches and chimney smoke bending and swirling in the howling wind. And then, when it seems Winter will stay forever, Henkes gives the reader hope as Winter slowly “shrinks away” and “slows down” to reveal Spring!

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy this feel-good book. The endpapers of the book show mittens at the beginning and flowers and butterflies at the end – a very clever way to demonstrate the passage of a season.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted November 22, 2018 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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May this Thanksgiving be filled with joy for you and all those you love!

 

 

 

It’s Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

Posted November 15, 2018 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

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Beware! This could happen to you.

You open your refrigerator and your olfactory sensory neurons are suddenly attacked by a horrendous smell. Your refrigerator stinks! It’s time to clean it out.

Pull out those veggie, fruit, and cheese drawers. Dump and examine the contents. Who knows what you may find – petrified peas, a hairy strawberry, moldy cheese. And what’s on those overcrowded refrigerator shelves? Leftover Chinese takeout from last month, a piece of not-so-fresh fish you forgot to fry, chunky milk? Take it out. Get rid of that grub and scrub-a-dub-dub! Warm soapy water and a fresh sponge will clean up those spills in no time. And don’t forget to replace that two-year-old box of baking soda that supposed to keep your refrigerator smelling clean. Now that your refrigerator sparkles and you have received the Good Housekeeping Award, give yourself a pat on the back, and quick – empty out the garbage!

 

Speaking of stinky refrigerators, check out these two books by Josh Funk. Smells like a good deal.

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The Case of the Stinky Stench written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017

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Mission Defrostable written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, Sterling Children’s Books, 2018

Happy Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

 

Time

Posted November 8, 2018 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Books

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“…it can come and go and you never even notice it was there.”

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In Forever or a Day, Sarah Jacoby’s poetic text refers to something that is elusive. The first two pages depict a young child staring out a window as the sun rises. In the almost deserted street with skyscrapers in the background, there is a newspaper truck with Times written on the side. This is the first hint of what that elusive something is. Throughout the book, readers see a family as they move through the day. They pack suitcases, ride on a train, visit family and spend a day with them at the beach followed by an evening campfire. All too soon, their visit is over, and they retrace their steps back to their city home. Sarah Jacoby‘s illustrations are rendered in watercolors, color sticks, and mixed media. Page turns reveal bright and colorful daytime scenes and dark and sparkly nighttime scenes. Within the beautiful illustrations and text, there are layers to this story. It’s about family, love, mindfulness, and the passage of time –  time that can be elusive. This is a book you need to read slowly. Enjoy it. Appreciate it – especially with someone you love.

Hello! Hello! Hello!

Posted November 1, 2018 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Books

Tags: ,

Lighthouses stand tall and shine their guiding lights warning ships at sea of danger and help them navigate safely.

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Hello Lighthouse written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall invites readers to enter the world of a lighthouse keeper from days gone by. The shape of the book is tall like a lighthouse, and Sophie Blackall’s illustrations repeat the circular features of the lighthouse throughout the book. In the first few pages, the reader sees a cutaway showing the many different levels and living spaces. Sophie Blackall’s charming illustrations done in ink and watercolor depict the warmth of the inside in contrast to the sometimes raging weather on the outside. Readers learn of the day-to-day tasks that must be done. The keeper is in charge of polishing lenses, refilling oil, trimming wicks, and winding clockwork that keeps the lamp in motion. When there is fog, a bell must be rung to warn those at sea to stay away. When snow and ice build up on the lantern room windows, it must be chipped away. And everything that happens is kept in a logbook, including the birth of the keeper’s daughter. Sophie Blackall’s rhythmic text suggests the rolling sound of waves, and she cleverly weaves the repetitive “Hello! Hello! Hello!” throughout the story showing the changing seasons and passage of time. Her beautiful words and illustrations make this unique lighthouse book shine.

Make sure to check out the back matter for more information on lighthouses.

 

 


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